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7 reasons why you should study abroad

Italian student blogger Irini Sala tells us 7 reasons why she would recommend studying abroad to anyone who asks about it.

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Student blogger Irini Sala is an undergraduate international student at the University of Reading, studying Consumer Behaviour and Marketing. As part of her course, she is currently doing an industrial work placement at a media/marketing company in Cape Town, South Africa. Here are her top seven reasons for why YOU should think about studying abroad.

 

Let’s get something clear, deciding to study abroad is very exciting but not always easy. The weeks that lead to your departure will fly by and, before you know it, you will find yourself gripping the handles of the airplane seat thinking about the top 10 ways to escape before take-off. Thankfully, as soon as you are on your way, the panic subsides, and you are left with a sense of anticipation and excitement. That moment will mark the beginning of a new chapter of your life and here are 7 reasons why it is going to the best chapter yet:

 

Having a second home is not too shabby

Growing up, I used to be very sceptical about the saying “a home away from home”, I was more of a “there is no place like home” kind of person. Maybe it was my Italian sense of pride, or the fact that I love my city and its inhabitants, but I never thought I could feel the same way about anywhere else. Well, I was wrong. Studying abroad has taught me that, as long as you feel perfectly comfortable in a place, you can call it home.

 

Furthermore, becoming an honorary member of another country is terribly exciting! Following this experience, I will always be able to live in the UK without feeling like a foreigner: I will always appreciate the homey feel of a roast dinner, and I even decide not to wear a jacket even when it’s -5 degrees now!

 

 

You meet some incredible people

This is a classic one. Anyone can tell you that the number one benefit of studying abroad is meeting people from all over the world and expanding your horizons. It’s true, it’s special. But, instead of repeating abstract concepts everyone has heard a thousand times, I will share my personal experience and provide a concrete idea of what this means. Finding out that I was going to live with 7 British people was quite stressful. I was convinced that being the only foreigner would put me at a disadvantage and that they would form a British clique and cut me out. Well, I was wrong, AGAIN.

 

If nothing else, being foreign only worked in my favour. My roommates were intrigued by my exotic background and were more than happy to learn about my culture and my customs (thankfully I proved to them that not ALL Italian stereotypes are real). They “adopted” me and showed me the ropes, and all they wanted in return was some pasta alla carbonara a couple of times a week (at their own risk). They became my family and, although we might go our different ways after university, they will always hold a special place in my heart.

 

 

Still sceptical about how to meet new people? Have a look at our guide on how to start conversations with other students.

 

You are not moving forever!

There is one thing every student must remember: university doesn’t last forever. This amazing experience unfortunately has an expiry date and the worst thing you can do is reach the end filled with regrets. Friends of mine decided to study abroad, but were then coming home every other weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for feeling home sick, but the reason they never felt at home abroad is that they never gave it a chance.

 

Knowing a place and fully appreciating it takes time and, sometimes, a bit of effort. Nevertheless, my point is, whether you like it or not, this experience will end. Eventually we will all head back to our countries and will have the option to never leave them again. Keeping this in mind, it is vital to make the most of it. Instead of going back home every other weekend, go exploring! Every country is full of incredible places and it would be such a shame to miss out on such a unique experience.

 

You become more employable

 

Nowadays, when it comes to CVs and Cover letters, the more impressive elements you fill them with, the better. Unfortunately, attending university and playing a sport after school is often not enough anymore, you need to find a niche. Luckily, going abroad is one of the things that gives you a bit of an edge. Not only does it make you stand out from the pack, but it also gives the employer a sense of what kind of person you are. Having left the comfort of your own country shows that you are proactive and not afraid of new things.

 

Furthermore, we are living in a time where a huge chunk of the world is at our disposal. Companies have branches in many different countries and jobs often include the chance of relocation or travel. If given the option, an employer will definitely choose an applicant who has already had a similar experience over one who hasn’t. Studying abroad really is a great investment, and it will give you more opportunities in the future.

 

Have a look at our 5 reasons why employers like international graduates.

 

You start to reappreciate your hometown

I have written about the fact that studying abroad is beneficial because it helps you discover new places, but, the truth is, that leaving your country also means falling in love with it all over again. They say that in relationships, as soon as two people start staying together out of habit and not love, they are doomed. The same can be said about our relationship with our hometown. After 18 years of seeing the same places, buildings and streets, we inevitably forget to notice all the elements that make them special. Studying abroad is an excellent solution! I can assure you that, after a couple of months away, you will start missing your home terribly and might even end up wasting several hours of your life on Google Maps’ “street view”, trying to feel like you are back there.

 

 

You learn new languages in a fast and natural way

Although not part of my personal experience I believe this is worth mentioning. When I left Italy, I felt quite comfortable with my level of English, but the same can’t be said for a lot of other international students. For some, coming to the UK meant learning a new language from scratch. I don’t really know how they did it, but in only three months their English improved. I was blown away! Personally, I worry that moving away is hard enough and a language barrier would only make it worse, but, it is definitely true that if you do want to learn a new language, studying abroad is the quickest and most efficient way to do it.

 

On a related note, although I may not have learnt any English, I did learn a bit of Spanish, a bit of French and even some Chinese! As an international student you will meet hundreds of other foreigners who are going to be more than happy to share their culture and their language with you.

 

Worried about the language barrier? Have a look at how to overcome it in our guide to 10 study abroad struggles you'll face (and will overcome).

 

You grow up

 

Studying abroad is important because it helps you grow. Doing things by yourself is scary at first but it is very rewarding. You learn to sort out your own messes and fend for yourself. My one piece of advice is to not be afraid to go alone. Having your parents travel with you and help you settle in during the first few days can seem extremely comforting, but it might also slow down the process of adjusting and becoming independent. You are bound to grow up anyway, might as well start immediately.

 

The secret is that no reasons in the world will ever measure up to actually going out there and experiencing it yourself. What’s the point of staying home anyway? Take the leap and go, you won’t regret it!

 

Has this inspired you to study abroad? Start searching for a course now!

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About Author

Irini is currently studying at the University of Reading but is in her placement year in Cape Town. She wants to share with the world how much she loves her study abroad experience.